Talk Media News

Victoria Jones created and edits Quick Morning News. She is chief White House correspondent with Washington DC-based Talk Media News, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.

Quick News

  • Donald ducks debate
  • 1 dead, 8 arrested: Oregon standoff
  • Sanders meets Obama at WH today
  • 26 states ask SCOTUS to block Obama’s power plant rule
  • Christie accuses rivals in “mop” flap
  • Obama calls for treatment for Zika virus
  • FBI: Man plotted attack on Masonic temple
Donald Ducks Debate (NYT, Politico, Hill, me)
• Donald Trump and Fox News stared each other down on Tuesday over his demand that news anchor Megyn Kelly be dumped from moderating Thursday’s debate, the last before Monday’s caucuses. The network did not blink. So Trump walked (he won against every other network – did he think he’d win – or did he want to walk so he could have his own competing event?)
• It was the most intense confrontation yet between two mutually dependent but increasingly antagonistic powerhouses of media and politics. “Let’s see how much money Fox is going to make on the debate without me,” Trump said at a presser in Iowa. Fox News said Trump’s refusal to debate his rivals was “near unprecedented.”
• “This is rooted in one thing – Megyn Kelly, who he has viciously attacked since August and has now spent four days demanding be removed from the debate stage,” the network said in a statement. On her program Tuesday night, Kelly observed, “Trump is not used to not controlling things, as the chief executive of a large organization.”
• Trump’s animus towards Kelly dates to August, in the first debate, when she questioned him about his past comments denigrating women. Afterwards, he suggested she had been so angry at him that she had blood pouring out of her “wherever” – a remark many saw as a reference to menstruation (clearly was)
• Since, Trump has repeatedly called Kelly a “third-rate reporter.” As Thursday’s debate approached, Trump began disparaging Kelly as if he were a prizefighter promoting a rematch. He called her dishonest, accused her of bias and a conflict of interest and said flat-out that he did not like her (would he ban reporters he didn’t like from the WH briefing room? buh bye…)


• Donald Trump came out with a nasty, Instagram Tuesday before he bailed on the debate: “Megyn Kelly’s really biased against me. She knows that. I know that. Everybody knows that. Do you really think she can be fair at a debate?” he asked


• Monday, Fox News responded to Trump, tauntingly saying it was “surprised he’s willing to show that much fear” about being questioned by Kelly. Tuesday, after Fos News president Roger Ailes declared that Kelly would “absolutely be on the debate stage,” the network issued yet another taunting statement:

• “We learned from a secret back channel that the ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet him if he becomes president – a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.” (Trump, a narcissist, has no sense of humor about himself)

• At that, Trump told Ailes and his network, effectively, to take a flying leap. “They can’t toy with me like they toy with everybody else. So let them have their debate, and let’s see how they do with the ratings.” Trump will apparently hold a competing event in Iowa, for Wounded Warriors – (which has been accused of mismanagement of funds)

• Fox News, in a statement said Trump’s campaign manager called a Fox News exec Saturday to say “Megyn had a ‘rough couple of days after that last debate’ and he ‘would hate to have her go through that again.'” The manager “was warned not to level any more threats, but he continued to do so. We can’t give in to terrorizations toward any of our employees.” (nasty stuff)

• Rival Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas), appearing on the Mark Levin radio show, said, “This is a job interview, you need to be willing to answer the questions of the American people and if Donald is afraid to defend his record that speaks volumes.” He offered to debate him “mano y mano,” adding that Trump could choose the moderator – or no moderator at all


• Federal offices in Washington DC will open on a three-hour delay today, four days after a devastating snow storm hit the nation’s capital. The DC snow emergency will end tonight. However, the region is still digging out (including me – nightmare). Many school districts remain closed. The big thaw is upon the region as temperatures rise

1 Dead, 8 Arrested: Oregon Standoff (Oregonian, NYT, Reuters, me)
• Oregon standoff spox Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was killed and eight other leaders of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation, including Ammon Bundy, were arrested Tuesday after the FBI and state police stopped vehicles about 20 miles north of Burns, Oregon
• Sources told the Oregonian that Finicum and Ryan Bundy disobeyed orders to surrender and resisted arrest. No other details were available. Ammon Bundy had been en route to a community meeting in John Day, Oregon, with several other members of the occupation, where he was scheduled to be a guest speaker, when authorities stopped his vehicle
• Militants were still occupying the refuge after leader Ammon Bundy’s arrest and the FBI was setting up a perimeter with the hopes of a peaceful resolution, a law enforcement official said. The defendants face a federal felony charge of conspiracy to impede officers of the U.S. from discharging their official duties through use of force, intimidation or threats
• The occupiers of the refuge said they were supporting two local ranchers who were returned to prison this month for setting fires that spread to federal land. The ranchers’ lawyer has said the occupiers don’t speak for the family. . The armed protesters also want federal lands turned over to local control. Community leaders have demanded that the group leave
• The dramatic event came days after officials had gone public complaining about apparent inaction by law enforcement. The governor had complained directly to U.S. AG Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey, as well as the WH. Monday, Harney County Judge Steve Grasty, who chairs the county commission, publicly urged police to resolve the occupation

Pics and maps explain the Oregon protest and the battle over Western lands (NYT)


Sanders Meets Obama at WH Today (AP, AP, me)
• As Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) left Iowa and Minnesota for his meeting at the WH today with President Obama, the meeting was being watched for signs of the president’s leanings. He’s sought to avoid showing favoritism, and WH spox Josh Earnest said the meeting would be informal, with “no formal agenda.” (will they sample Ben and Jerry’s Bernie’s Yearning flavor?)
• Just a day earlier, Obama had called Hillary Clinton “wicked smart” and immensely qualified to run the country. Obama has met with Clinton, his former SecState and 2008 primary opponent, periodically (Obama also called Sanders a “bright, shiny object”- not exactly flattering)
• Sanders told reporters Tuesday in Des Moines that if he could generate large turnout among non-traditional voters, young people and workers, he could claim victory at the caucuses. “We will win here in Iowa if the voter turnout is high and frankly if the turnout is not high we’re going to be struggling,” he said. He said he could still win
• The New Hampshire Union Leader and MSNBC said Tuesday they would host an additional Democratic debate next week just before the first-in-the-nation primary. But the Democratic National Committee chairwoman said the party had “no plans” to sanction more debates, and Clinton’s campaign said she’d only participate if the other candidates agree (hiding?)

• Bernie Sanders has a new ad for Iowa – no Simon and Garfunkel this time – but this is the ad that “America” wanted and tried to be: Stirring, uplifting and unifying. The music is rubbish in this ad, though


26 States Ask SCOTUS to Block Obama’s Power Plant Rule (Hill, Reuters, me)
• Twenty-six states are asking the Supreme Court to block the Obama admin’s landmark climate change rule for power plants. The states, led by West Virginia and Texas, say a lower appeals court was wrong last week to reject their plea to hold the regulation off while the federal court system decides whether it’s legal
• The appeal shows an attempt to get the high court involved in the case much faster than would usually be the case if the states had to wait for the lower court to decide and appeal the ruling. “Real people are hurting in West Virginia and it’s my job to fight for them,” West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey said in a statement
• Without the stay, the states write in their petition, the regulation “will continue to unlawfully impose massive and irreparable harms upon the sovereign states.” The regulation, made final in August, mandates a 32% cut in the power sector’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2030
• Shortly after the Obama admin proposed the rule, in 2014, the group sought to have it overturned. But the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that it couldn’t act on a regulation that isn’t final. Oral arguments in the case are due on 2 June. The states would usually have to wait for a ruling on that case for a Supreme Court appeal

• The UN on Tuesday sent invitations to Syrian peace talks in Geneva. The talks are expected to start Friday and could last six months (if they don’t fall apart – they’re even being held in separate rooms). Syrian Kurdish officials will not be invited. Negotiations for the opposition will be led by a Saudi-backed opposition group (Reuters, me)


Christie Accuses Rivals of Planting Critic in “Mop” Flap (Politico, ABC7NY, me)
• Gov Chris Christie (R-NJ), at a Trenton presser, accused his political rivals Tuesday of sending a “plant” to a New Hampshire town hall event Monday to challenge him on his response to the snow storm that flooded parts of New Jersey. A young woman questioned his decision to quickly return to the campaign trail as cleanup continued of the state
• The girl said she had friends and family in New Jersey and she wondered why Christie wasn’t there spearheading the response. “You want me to go down there with a mop?” he retorted (rudely). Christie says she refused to provide names and contact info for her family so he could call and reassure them – therefore, he says, she was likely put up to it (prob terrified)
• At Monday night’s event, Christie called the Republican mayor of North Wildwood, a longtime Christie supporter, a “crazy mayor” for comparing the damage of the snowstorm to Hurricane Sandy. In a statement, Mayor Patrick Rosenello said that Christie had insulted his constituents and emergency responders. Christie apologized Tuesday
• The exchange with the New Jersey press corps showed the extent to which the Christie campaign has been forced to respond to questions about his decision to fly back to New Hampshire on Sunday, while the state was still gauging the damage from the weekend’s historic snowstorm


• Gov Paul LePage (R-Maine) said Tuesday that legislative proposals to increase prison sentences for drug traffickers don’t do enough. “What we ought to do is bring the guillotine back,” he said, interrupting the hosts on radio station WVOM. “We could have public executions and we could even have which hole it falls in.” (set an example – you go first) (Politico, me)


Obama Calls for Treatment for Zika Virus (BBC, Reuters, Reuters, me)
• President Obama on Tuesday called for the rapid development of tests, vaccines and treatments to fight the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus, which has been lined to birth defects and could spread to the U.S. in warmer months. He was briefed by his top health and national security officials on Tuesday
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidelines to deal with the Zika virus. Brazil has seen a surge in babies born with abnormally small heads, a condition known as microcephaly. The World Health Organization has warned the virus could spread across the Americas, except Chile and Canada
• U.S. doctors are being advised to closely monitor ultrasounds of pregnant women who have traveled to areas where Zika has been transmitted. The guidance says babies born with microcephaly to mothers exposed to Zika should be tested for the virus. No treatment or vaccine is available
• In a blog post, NIH Director Dr Francis Collins cited a Lancet study published 14 Jan in which researchers predicted Zika could be spread in areas along the East and West Coasts of the U.S. and much of the Midwest during warmer months, where about 200 million people live. The U.S. has started working on a vaccine

•  Authorities in Virginia and Arkansas said a person in each state who recently traveled out of the U.S. had tested positive for Zika. Puerto Rico reported 18 new cases of the virus on Tuesday, although none were pregnant women. Brazil’s health minister admitted Tuesday, “We are losing the battle in a big way” against Zika


• Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (cynically and hypocritically) told reporters in Rome today that freedom of expression doesn’t extend to insulting other people’s faith. He said he and Pope Francis discussed the issue during their audience at the Vatican on Tuesday (what about insults in Iran against Christians, Zoroastrians, Jews, Bahá’ís? oh never mind…) (AP, me


FBI: Man Plotted Attack on Masonic Temple (AP, Reuters, me)
• A Milwaukee man who authorities said was planning to kill more than 30 people in a mass shooting at a Masonic temple in Milwaukee has been arrested and charged with possession of two machine guns and a silencer, the FBI said Tuesday
• Samy Mohamed Hamzeh, 23, told two people who turned out to be FBI confidential sources that he planned to carry out the attack at a Masonic temple in an attack that would show “nobody can play with Muslims,” the DoJ said in a statement. He was arrested Monday after he bought the two machine guns and silencer in a meeting with the FBI sources, authorities said
• The officials said Hamzeh had planned to travel to Israel in October to attack Israeli soldiers and civilians in the West Bank. He abandoned those plans due to “family, financial and logistical reasons,” an affidavit said, and focused on a domestic attack. Hamseh discussed his plans extensively in Arabic with two FBI informants
• On 19 Jan, the three practiced firing a handgun at a range and then took a guided tour of the Masonic temple to learn when and where people would be meeting, the criminal complaint said. Hamseh said he envisioned one person guarding the temple’s main door while the others went upstairs to kill everyone they saw in a meeting, according to authorities

• “I am telling you, if this hit is executed, it will be known all over the world … all the Mujahadeen will be talking and they will be proud of us. Such operations will increase in America,” Hamzeh said, according to the affidavit. He added that he hoped to kill 30 people “because these 30 will terrify the world. The

[expletive] will know that nobody can play with Muslims.”

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Victoria Jones – Editor